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List of Monthly Drawing Challenges for WHOLE Year

After totally missing out on Inktober recently, I decided to seek out some other monthly challenges. Why shouldn't we have some set cha...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Re-Post: The Noun Project - Making my life easier everyday

Original post from my old WordPress blog: "The Noun Project might be old-hat for some but I only just learned of it this year. Thanks to my Creative Director at work, I now have a resource that I come back to time and again. I wanted to help support this wonderful site but sharing it.
So what is The Noun Project? “The Noun Project is building a global visual language that everyone can understand. We want to enable our users to visually communicate anything to anyone.”



From my experience, in a corporate setting we use these symbols in brochures and catalogs to help convey or reinforce an idea. Instead of bolding or headlining something you want to call out like ‘Fresh foods’, I might use a carrot symbol. Or instead of ‘weather resistant’ I might choose an umbrella. And it can get deeper than that, no doubt. I look forward to using more of these symbols, making smart selections for witty correlations.
Now I hope you all use this resource to help better your designs and communications. Some are free, some are not. Even if you’re not a designer, next time you think about using clip art, I hope you’ll decide to step outside the box.
They download as .svg so you’ll need a program capable of reading it and saving it as an .eps or .png. If you don’t have Adobe Illustrator, Gimp is a free open source program that does the job just fine."

Some updates to this - now you have to sign up with the site in order to download and all of the icons must be attributed unless they are bought, under $2. Once downloaded, the zip file now contains the .svg AND a .png so you no longer have to have a program to change them into .png. They also have cool 'kit' options now, kind of like a lightbox on some of the major stock photo websites. The premium paid levels are really varied, too. I mean really, $10 a month to not have to attribute all the time, that's a pretty good deal.

It always amazes me how many designers don't know about this site. It makes me wonder how many awesome sites are out there that I don't know about...

with love - M

Friday, May 9, 2014

Re-post: RõSõz Logo Design and Branding


Original post on my old WordPress blog in October 2010: "A freelance seamstress thought she just needed some business cards and ended up creating her own brand with me as her design guide. Time and money were limited for this first step of branding but we managed to agree on these two as the final designs."

So this was for my Mom. Why I didn't just say that, I don't know. Being so close to Mother's Day, I felt it appropriate to revisit this piece. The whole project was as simple as - she asked me if I could make her some business cards and I did. However, this was when I was establishing how I wanted to ask questions to clients so I experimented with a questionnaire on her for establishing a brand. Questions like "who are your competitors?" and "what animal best represents your company?" and so on. She was a great test subject and gave me a bit of a challenge with the typefaces, if I remember correctly. I had a whole list and she kept wanting to pair up typefaces that I specifically separated. The flower design was the easiest part because it was a vector version of a photo I took of a hair piece I had made out of satin. And the name - RõSõz - is kind of ridiculously perfect. Her last name is Rowe and she sews... done.

When it came time to choose a design for the business card, it just wasn't happening. She liked them both and wanted both versions to hand out. Maybe she thought the more colorful one would be good for artsy people and the standard one for the more square folk. She says she got a lot of compliments on them and ended up giving out my business card to folks, as well. I haven't heard from any of those people but hey, promotion is still promotion. 

Personally, I think people have been scared to talk to me (and other designers) about design work in the past. Like I was some artsy seraphim that can only be called upon for the most serious of projects. Seems like folk are wising up though. Trust me, no matter how silly or small you might think your idea is, there is a designer out there just itching to help you. And I'm not saying that like "oh we're so desperate for work" because even I have turned down work in the driest of seasons because of various reasons (usually because the client was untrustworthy or rude). What I am saying is that we love to take ideas and make them into functional works of art. Love it.

I hope ya'll don't mind a few more re-posts from my old blog. I just really like a couple of the topics and didn't want to leave them behind in WordPress land. 

with love - M

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Abby Howard and why I think her work is fantastical

Thank you, Penny Arcade folks for introducing me (and many others) to a wonderful artist and blossoming story teller - Abby Howard.

The Nerve of Some People
Before I go any further, let me preface this whole post by saying I feel a little odd talking about a person here. Typically, I'm used to discussing websites or tools or pieces of work... not a person. Let me know if I'm doing it all wrong, please. I'd rather not have her or her fans get upset and make me go insane by hacking my computer and installing strange programs and make it look like it has a mind of it's own or that it's out to kill me or something. Not that they would do that... that's just where my mind went.

ABBY HOWARD has changed my life. Not in that extreme I-was-going-down-a-dark-path-but-no-longer-thank-to-Abby kind of way. More like the I-now-have-a-better-understanding-of-things-I-want-to-accomplish-in-this-life-and-how-to-get-there kind of way. That was way too many dashes. 

This is also why I thanked Penny Arcade at the beginning of this post. They played a large role in it all. If you haven't already watched Strip Search, maybe it's time you did. If you have any interest in every creating your own comic (web or otherwise), watch it. I found it super enlightening and entertaining. Within it you will watch heroes rise and fall. Heroes like Abby. She went through a lot in that little web series. I don't feel like I know her or anything but I could definitely sympathize with her and several of the others. Being female myself, it was empowering to see fellow ladies-at-arms, not behind their web comes on the internet but out in the open for all to see (and judge!). Abby specifically seemed the odd ball at first but as with most human beings, the more we saw, the more we understood... her genius

Let's get to the good stuff. Abby now has two running web comics. The first is called Junior Scientist Power Hour or JSPH. It's light, it's fun, and sometimes my face hurts it's so funny. Always, it entertains me. Maybe my kind of humor is a little different... whatever. JSPH is her long standing comic with no over-arching story, just funny slice-of-life kind of stuff. After her experiences at Strip Search, she decided to dive in face first and do a kickstarter (that was way successful) for her new comic The Last Halloween. It's several pages in and the art style alone is enough to keep me hooked. Every week I look forward to these two comics. But why...

Maybe it's the dark material, maybe it's the style of illustration, or maybe it's that cat. Whatever it is, it makes me smile and that's what matters. I know I can peruse through older posts and find a treasure I had forgotten about. I know I can look forward to new pieces of  web comic gold each week.

Draw on, Abby Howard. Draw on.

with love - M

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Designer's Survival Guide: Thank you Richard Baird

Go here. Do it now.

This site has been sitting on my top bar in Chrome since... well since I've had Chrome. Which is a long while. I feel the need to pass it on and discuss it in all it's glory. If I ever were to make such a guide, I hope it will be as helpful to others as this one has been to me.

You may be asking yourself - "Why do I need a guide? I'm the most glorious designer that ever was and I have clients coming out the wazoo." Good for you. I hope a spider lays eggs in your ears. Show some humility! As for me, I grab at every 'guide' I can get my hands on because I don't want just one perspective, I want all the perspectives. I want to be prepared when I get that project that makes me jump through hoops or that client that doesn't has trouble communicating what they want. I want to know ALL the ways I can promote myself without blatantly advertising.

There are 22 categories now. When I first saved this site, I think there were half as many. I'll just touch on a few of my favorites.

  • Education - Obviously, I'm personally a bit beyond this issue now but this section still holds lots of useful information. Being a college-grown designer, I did loads of research into what I want out of a school for a graphic design degree and it astounded me how many schools I visited fell short of even the most basic standards. It was a lot of work but I feel I made a better choice because of it. And I didn't even want to be a Graphic Designer to begin with - I wanted to be an Herbologist... Anyway, I know some other folks that didn't need college or just took a couple courses here and there on specific programs (with the internet how it is now, you can learn all about the design programs without ever stepping in a classroom). I'm glad it's still acceptable to not have a degree and still be a great designer. 
  • Self-Promotion - SO IMPORTANT! I have witnessed a broad spectrum of types of self-promotion by freelancers and business owners. Sometimes it's dead-on. Sucks me in, makes me curious, establishes a sort of conversation/relationship. Sometimes it's just annoying. Like a person on a bus or train talking to everyone and no one about themselves and how deserving they are of your money. Of course sometimes I meet wonderful designers in my freelance travels, designers with a wealth of knowledge and a constant updating collection of wonderful work... but no one knows about it but me, the designer, and maybe they're cat. If you create things in any capacity, please read this guide. 
  • Pricing - I still struggle with this on a regular basis. The one system I always come back to was actually one recommended to me by an Etsy seller. (h * t) + m = x     Where h = per hour rate, whatever your time is worth to you. Be sure to think about taxes here, too! t = amount of time spent on project including meetings, emails, phone calls, etc. m = materials used be it a percentage of what you pay for that design program or that laptop or the paper and printer you used to make comps. x = the total, duh silly. Thanks to guides like this, I constantly re-evaluate what I charge for my time and how I explain it to clients.
Why are you still here?! Go check it out. Put your new knowledge and perspective to good use. Make your own guide. Spread the word. Tell me about it! I'm always looking to add to my blogroll.

And thank you, Richard Baird. You've made a difference in this designer.

with love - M